Jeff Smith wins official 16th Ward endorsement
While this vote validates the previously announced personal endorsements of the committeeman and committeewoman, the ward's official endorsement is by vote of the membership, which does not always follow the leadership. (In 2003, the club voted to endorse Steve Malle for alderman, over former State Rep and Director of Elections Jim O'Toole and eventual winner Donna Baringer.) Eligibility to vote was granted to members whose 2006 dues was paid and who had attended two of the past three meetings. Candidates for all offices were allowed to speak and then requested to leave (except for congressional candidate Jim Frisella, unopposed State Rep. Fred Kratky and unopposed Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza, who are voting members of the club). Smith, former State Rep. Derio Gambaro, State Rep Amber Boykins and former Alderman Kenny Jones all attended and spoke on behalf of their candidacies for the senate seat. A fifth candidate, State Rep Yaphett El-Amin, did not attend. An animated discussion followed, with Favazza, Frisella and several other club members expressing their support for Gambaro for the senate nomination. Committeeman Kratky, Committeewoman Cathy Ruggeri Rea and Michelle Kratky were among those voicing support for Smith. The club announced only the winners and not the number of votes, but the Smith-Gambaro vote is believed to have been close.
While the organization's endorsement is chosen very democratically, the endorsement historically has had little influence on the ward's voters. In 2004, the club endorsed Claire McCaskill's successful challenge of Gov Bob Holden, former State Rep Joan Barry for Congress and State Rep Mark Abel for State Treasurer, but didn't carry any of them in the ward. Favazza handily carried the ward in the congressional contest, beating the endorsed Barry by about 2-1. Smith finished third in the ward, but ahead of district winner Carnahan, who finished fourth in the ward. The 16th Ward is home to more Republicans than any other city ward (even though the city's only GOP alderman represents the neighboring 12th), and the ward's Democratic voters are among the most conservative in the city. In the primary, the Oracle expects that Gambaro will also beat the endorsement and narrowly outpoll Smith in the ward, but that Smith will win the nomination with a strong showing in other parts of the district.
The club also voted to endorse incumbent Congressman Russ Carnahan over Frisella, but that vote was also far from unanimous. Both candidates spoke. Carnahan was given special treatment to accommodate his schedule.
While Darrell Wattenbarger of Columbia spoke to the meeting, the ward endorsed the heavily favored Susan Montee (who did not attend) for state auditor (but not unanimously).
Uncontroversial endorsements were also won by U S Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, License Collector Greg Daly for Collector of Revenue and Alderman Mike McMillan for License Collector, as well as all Democrats running unopposed for the party's nomination. Daly, McMillan, Kratky, and State Rep. Mike Vogt attended and spoke. Favazza, unopposed for re-election, opted not to speak on his own behalf.